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Author Joe McGinniss Passes

7:52 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller



From the Washington Post:

NEW YORK — Joe McGinniss, the adventurous and news-making author and reporter who skewered the marketing of Richard Nixon in “The Selling of the President 1968” and tracked his personal journey from sympathizer to scourge of convicted killer Jeffrey MacDonald in the blockbuster “Fatal Vision,” died Monday at age 71.

McGinniss, who announced last year that he had been diagnosed with inoperable prostate cancer, died from complications related to his disease. His attorney and longtime friend Dennis Holahan said he died at a hospital in Worcester, Mass.

I got to first meet Joe in the fall of 2008 (at the time of the above image, taken by my wife, Judy Youngquist), when he came to Alaska right after the presidential election campaign. He was contemplating writing a book about Sarah Palin, and hung out a lot with the Alaska progressive bloggers, who were at that time a close team of colleagues. I had read The Selling of the President, Going to ExtremesFatal Vision, and Blind Faith, and had followed the controversies surrounding the latter books over the years.

We started writing back and forth occasionally, through email.  He often wrote to me after I had posted another installment in my long-running Saradise Lost series of articles.

In the spring of 2010, he came to Wasilla, Alaska, where he moved into a small lakeside house directly adjacent to the Palins’ cult compound. I helped him set up his own security perimeter, with signs, chains, padlocks and other stuff. My dog went over and pissed, possibly pooped on the Palins’ lawn. Joe was disturbed. I wrote about it, and Joe got more disturbed. We ended contact abruptly. The rest of the time he was in Alaska.

He could be prickly. So can I.

By the time he finished his book on Palin, we were back into regular correspondence. He named me or quoted me fairly extensively in The Rogue. Just before publication, McGinniss asked me to promote the book here at Firedoglake‘s book salon. We did that session on September 25, 2011.

Joe told me he was ill fairly early on. He stopped writing back to me sometime last fall. Just last week, I wondered aloud to my wife how he might be doing. And Sunday evening, watching Sarah Palin’s bizarre CPAC rant, I hoped he was enjoying it. It was Palin’s very best truly awful speech yet.

Before The Rogue‘s publication, Palin had already self-destructed after the Tucson massacre of  early January, 2011, when she blathered about critics of her target meme aimed at severely injured U.S. Rep. Gabielle Giffords’ 2012 campaign, as committing “blood libel” against Palin:


But Joe’s book was instrumental in putting what should have been the final nails in Palin’s political coffin. Too bad the spikes weren’t crafted in silver, eh?

As Palin re-insinuates herself into the lizard brain of paleo-conservatives, with her Putin putdowns and 8th grade snark, the headline to the New York Times review of The Rogue frames McGinniss’ last project well:

Sarah Palin Could See This Guy From Her House

Glad to have known you, Joe McGinniss.


Book Salon Preview: Goliath, Life & Loathing in Greater Israel by Max Blumenthal – Part Three: The Complete Real News Interviews

8:58 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

This past week, Max Blumenthal, author of Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, sat for five interview with The Real News‘ Paul Jay.  I posted part one here in mid-week.  All five segments have now been posted at The Real News.  Saturday afternoon, Firedoglake will host Blumenthal on the Saturday portion of the weekly Book Salon.  As part of the preliminaries for this important salon, here are all five segments, posted together for your convenience.

Part One:

Part Two:

Part Three:

Part Four:

I’ll post when I can find a link…..

Part Five:

Continuing to Watch Max Blumenthal Grow as a Major American Writer

10:43 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Almost two years ago, author, journalist, blogger, videographer and expert on fundamentalisms, Max Blumenthal, was a guest for the firedoglake Book Salon, when his book Republican Gomorrah, came out.  I wrote an introductory diary for The Seminal (the predecessor here of My firedoglake), titled Watching Max Blumenthal Grow to Be a Major American Writer.  In it, I made some observations about this young writer that have held well since.

I met Max when he came to Wasilla, investigating Sarah Palin’s religious beliefs and those of her close followers.  I live in Wasilla, so he stayed with Ms. ET and me.  As I wrote in 2009, our son had just left for college in California, and we were empty-nesters for the first time.  We took him in like a son, and would have loved it if he had stayed for weeks instead of days.

Since  2008, when I got to know this incredibly committed young researcher, we’ve kept in intermittent touch, and I headed the efforts to fund his return to Alaska in September, 2009, for talks about Republican Gomorrah.

Blumenthal’s efforts are phenomenally broad.  Over the past few months he has interviewed Jewish citizens in Turkey about their lives there, dealt in detail with the background of Anders Breivik, investigated racism and eliminationism in the teachings, writings and activities of West Bank settler rabbis, helped bust the people in the behind-the-scenes activities to deter the 2011 Gaza flotilla from succeeding, continued his longstanding battle to expose Andrew Breitbart, covered AIPAC’s 2011 convention, continued his documentation of Pastor James Hagee’s weird Christianist Zionism, and has been in and out of Lebanon through most of August, where he has interviewed longtime Palestinian refugees there:

I recently spent three weeks in Lebanon to research the Palestinian refugee situation and the effects of the uprising in Syria on the region. I will be writing extensively about my trip when I return from Israel-Palestine later this month. For now, I have posted my appearance on Transit, a current affairs/political interview program on Lebanon’s Future TV (the official network of the Hariri family’s Future Party). To my complete surprise, the producers decided to air the complete, uncensored “Feeling the Hate in Jerusalem” video in the middle of the interview. The video punctuated a lengthy discussion of issues ranging from AIPAC to the Tea Party to the Palestinian statehood resolution to Barack Obama’s disappointing presidency.

In London, last week, Max was interviewed by sternchenproductions.  These interviews provide examples of why Blumenthal may be one of the most important young people covering global issues at this time.  The producers divided their output into separate subjects that Max discusses.

What is most important about the three clips from the interview posted below is perhaps the depth Blumenthal’s sense of what journalism is deeply informs his approach to his craft, and his comments on the dilemma so many other journalists have failed to solve creatively. The three clips are fairly long, adding up to a half hour. It is well worth the time to watch, though.

The Role of the Media in the Israel Palestine Conflict:

Blumenthal’s reference to his being cut off from mainstream media access for being unwilling to be “collegial” resonates with Cenk Uyger’s piece on his withdrawal from MSNBC.

Christian Zionism in the USA:

“A figure of Jesus appearing in a deodorant stick.” Nobody explains the cynical relationship between Christian Zionists and settlement expansionists better than Max. The cynicism of this is more and more implicit in Max’s work over these past three years. Max’s take on an aspect of the cognitive dissonance of Israeli rightwing support of Glen Beck is almost poetry – “A symphony of anti-Semitic dogwhistles.”

Citizen Journalism:

As Blumenthal describes the MO of opposition to his work, fdl devotees might find a helluva lot to identify with.  In the beginning of his summation, Max challenges NPR‘s Terry Gross to give his upcoming book, which will be about Palestine and Israel, the same time she gave his last one.

Max Blumenthal’s ability to look inward and outward about what he is looking at, learning, writing about, and taking to the next level, deserves a far wider audience than has been the case.

Bookmark his site.